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Poster: EricEldred Date: Jul 9, 2004 5:33am
Forum: bookmobile Subject: Free Walden

sorry for the crossposting. i've submitted this to
the new media but no response.

Yesterday (July 8, 2004) I took the Internet Bookmobile to Walden Pond in
Concord, Mass. It was the 150th anniversary of H. D. Thoreau's book
"Walden." The Thoreau Society had a dawn to dusk reading.

After an hour of having readers print and take away free copies of "Walden,"
I was asked by the Walden Pond Reservation police to pack up and leave
and threatened with arrest. I left.

The park supervisor (Denise Morrissey, 978-369-3254) told me I could
not pass out free literature without a permit. And she would not give me
a permit because, as she explained, the state park gets money from a
concession by the Thoreau Society, which operates a store that sells
"Walden"--and I was competing with them by giving away free copies.

There is no place to park at Walden Pond except in the state parking
lot, for which I paid $5.

Integral to the Internet Bookmobile concept is showing citizens how
we can become our own publishers by means of the free Internet and
new print-on-demand technology. It is not just giving away free
books--readers actually learn how to make the books themselves.
It promotes the sharing ethos of the Internet and free culture and
therefore is a threat to the established publishing industry and the
media giants that control our culture. The Internet Bookmobile is
sponsored by the Internet Archive and Anywhere Books. The driver
of this Bookmobile is Eric Eldred, who took a suit against the
Copyright Extension Act to the Supreme Court and lost to the big

Evidently members of the Thoreau Society, charged with his legacy,
are now in the business of making money off him and are using their
political power to suppress the free culture of which he would be
proud. The government trustees of the land, who once jailed Thoreau,
are now more interested in making money themselves instead of helping
to spread his message. Shame.

Teachers and librarians and ordinary citizens need to master new
technology and use it for appropriate purposes. We can use these
tools to further our culture. But we can't do so if we are
threatened with arrest for giving away "Walden." I am having
difficulty getting invitations to schools and libraries for the
Bookmobile; I wonder why. Learn about the Internet Archive
Bookmobile at and

The book I wanted to give away is formatted at (or .doc) (It works best if you
have Baskerville Old Face font--sorry, I wasn't able to save a good
PDF version from OpenOffice.)

If you would like the Internet Bookmobile to visit so you can make
your own free copies of "Walden," or one of the 25,000 other free
books on the Internet, or your own custom book, please invite me
to your site. If it's legal to do so.

Eric Eldred
35 Manchester Rd #11A-210
Derry, NH 03038
+1 603 434 7746

Reply [edit]

Poster: ~bc Date: Jul 11, 2004 12:18pm
Forum: bookmobile Subject: Re: Free Walden

As much as I support the Internet Bookmobile, I must say I can certainly see where the park is coming from. It's hard enough for them to generate revenues to keep the place open, let alone with free competition in their own parking lot. Cut them some slack, even if they might have been a little rude... I'm sure you took them for surprise. Did you call ahead of time and ask permission to set up shop there? They're a non-profit (from what I can tell) and their park land is run by the state parks department... so their sales of those books certainly reciprocate their mission to spread Thoreau's word.

Reply [edit]

Poster: EricEldred Date: Jul 12, 2004 4:51am
Forum: bookmobile Subject: Re: Free Walden

well, no, I didn't ask government permission to print "Walden." The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says there should be no law restricting freedom of speech and press.

I spoke with the Thoreau Society president beforehand and she was not opposed to the idea but
wouldn't give me permission to park the Bookmobile on state reservation property and give away copies.

Thoreau's works are in the public domain. His ideas are often rude and demonstrative. Probably no government would approve of them if they understood them. I am not interested in taking money away from the Thoreau Society. They have enough members who are living off his reputation. But I think they should not have a state-enforced monopoly on "Walden," nor on Walden Pond, the publicly-owned park at which I chose to publish.

What would Thoreau have done?

I am consulting with lawyers whether to file a suit if my request for a permit to publish is denied.

You can invite the Internet Bookmobile to your site by replying to this message.

Reply [edit]

Poster: ~bc Date: Jul 12, 2004 12:47pm
Forum: bookmobile Subject: Re: Free Walden

I think you may be missing my point entirely. I'm not saying you don't have the right to print Thoreau, and if they're fighting you on that, I support your right to uphold the public domain. Let me re-state my thoughts in a different scenario...

Imagine a school group are raising money for a band field trip with a bake sale on school grounds. Would you park across the street and give away baked goods for free? It would be well within your rights of course, but would it be right? I imagine the recipe for brownies is in the public domain. I'm happy about that.

Anyhow, from what I can ascertain, they're using his book for a fund raiser to maintain their non-profit educational organization. That's where I'm saying that's just not nice to take that away from them, on their own grounds, just as you wouldn't (hopefully) park across the street from a school fundraiser.


Reply [edit]

Poster: tdxdave Date: Jul 12, 2004 11:40pm
Forum: bookmobile Subject: Re: Free Walden

If the bookmobile parked there every day, that would be rude, but for one day, I see nothing wrong. Folks who wish to support the Thoreau Society could easily visit the bookmobile, and then purchase some merchandise.

Reply [edit]

Poster: Ordogthemage Date: Jul 13, 2004 10:09am
Forum: bookmobile Subject: Re: Free Walden

It seems to me that for one day, esp. that day, they (the park) could have made more of the publicity of such a novel idea.

If someone was going to purchase a book, for say $10, from the park, and they got it printed free, they could have donated $5-7 to the park, and the park would have been ahead. It would have been a good lesson, too.

As I said, it's just one day, and what a day of all days to prohibit such activity. If that's as forward thinking as park managment is they have much else to worry about. Godd managment would have turned the situation to advantage, not made a fiasco.

Reply [edit]

Poster: EricEldred Date: Jul 14, 2004 9:44pm
Forum: bookmobile Subject: Re: Free Walden

I didn't want to compete with the Thoreau Society nor steal bread from their mouth. I talked with the executive director a week before the event and she had no objection. As you can see from their website, they offered encouragement for others to celebrate the 150th anniversary with them. But she wouldn't back me up against the state when I got there.

Last month I made a deal with the local bookstore to give away one book if the reader bought two from them. They were happy with that and it was a success on both sides. Creative options like that are possible, but apparently not with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The best thing that can happen from all this is that readers extend the Internet Bookmobile an invitation to visit their site so we can make and give away books, including "Walden." You can do that by contacting your school or library, explaining the Internet Bookmobile, and replying to this post.